Cuba Stresses the Importance of Full Compliance with Immigration Agreements with the US

By Claudia Fonseca Sosa on November 15, 2022

Carlos Fernández de Cossío Domínguez

Briefing the press on the course of the round of migration talks with the United States that took place today in Havana, Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío said that the Cuban delegation welcomed the announcement of the full resumption of immigrant visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba as of January 4, 2023.

At the same time, he reiterated the importance of the full restoration of immigration and consular services at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, particularly the processing of non-immigrant visas.

Cuba also stressed the importance of compliance with bilateral migration agreements in their entirety and not selectively, Cossío added.

He said both sides reviewed compliance with the bilateral migration agreements whose purpose is the mutual commitment to guarantee regular, safe and orderly migration, and that Cuba reaffirmed its willingness to comply, as it has been up to now, with the commitments established.

In addition, the Cuban side reiterated its concern about the measures of encouragement to illegal migration that the U.S. government maintains in force.

According to a note from the Cuban Foreign Ministry published this afternoon, special emphasis is placed on this stimulus by the negative impact that the U.S. economic blockade and the extreme reinforcement measures applied since 2019 exert on the socioeconomic conditions of the Cuban population, a factor that constitutes an important stimulus to migration.

Also constituting stimuli are the preferential treatment received by Cubans who illegally enter U.S. territory and the validity of the Cuban Adjustment Act.

The Foreign Ministry informed that the Cuban delegation stressed that irregular migration is associated with the regrettable loss of lives, as well as other phenomena such as the smuggling of migrants, immigration fraud and human trafficking. He also drew attention to the danger posed by the activity of criminal organizations involved in human trafficking.

During his conference, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs pointed out that this is the second time that delegations from both countries are meeting this year to address migration issues and that the objective of these conversations is to evaluate and promote the implementation of the bilateral agreements that exist with the purpose of preventing illegal, unsafe and disorderly migration.

Both sides noted the validity and importance of the existing agreements while ratifying the commitment to them. “We also recognized the steps taken in recent months to ensure the effective implementation of the agreements.”

Cuba reiterated concern over measures to encourage illegal migration, including the privileged treatment of Cubans arriving at the U.S. border and the validity and application of the Cuban Adjustment Act, Cossío said.

He added that the Cuban side emphasized the impact of the economic blockade and the measures to strengthen it in recent years. “There is no doubt that a policy aimed at depressing the standard of living of the Cuban population constitutes a direct stimulus to emigration.”

The Cuban delegation also pointed out the need to combat criminal practices that put people’s lives at risk. “We are alarmed about the dangers of irregular emigration by sea and its serious risks in operations that sometimes involve children and elderly people.”

Cossío reiterated that “it is important to have resumed the exercise of discussing, jointly analyzing and evaluating the progress of the migratory agreements”, which “are commitments assumed by both parties”.

He added that “on this occasion, it was possible to carry out a more in-depth evaluation of the steps that have been taken since April to date, such as the resumption of immigration services in Havana, when the US committed to grant the 20,000 annual visas (both of which were not fulfilled in April) and the joint announcement that as of January 4th, migratory services in Havana will be fully re-established and operations in Guyana will be closed, as well as evaluating the process of repatriation of migrants who are considered inadmissible”.

He recalled that “Cuba informed the U.S. Government some time ago of its willingness to receive flights of deportees, and that it remains to reach an agreement on the terms and conditions to carry out these flights, which both parties aspire to have regularity”.

The vice-chancellor said that “although the blockade and reinforcement measures such as the inclusion of Cuba in the list of countries sponsoring terrorism are not part of the official agenda of these migratory talks, both are issues that constitute a stimulus for migration and this reality cannot be ignored”.

Migration is a universal phenomenon and the reasons are diverse, from wars, natural phenomena, economic crises, dissatisfaction with the reality of the country where one resides, and even factors such as overpopulation…these are common issues for all regions, including Latin America and the Caribbean, Cossío commented, adding that “what is peculiar to Cuba is the exogenous factor, which is the US blockade, whose declared purpose is to depress the standard of living of the Cuban population”.

The purpose of the blockade is to make the life of every Cuban as distressing as possible, therefore it becomes a factor that one cannot ignore when considering the motivations that provoke emigration from Cuba to the U.S., he said.

The list of countries sponsoring terrorism is one of the measures that aggravate the impact of the blockade, and it is not only a slander against Cuba, a totally unjustified designation of Cuba, but the country’s presence on that list – as conceived by the U.S. government – entails punitive actions, he argued.

“It is a high cost that the country pays for the State Department’s arbitrary and unilateral designation,” he said, and therefore, it can be considered one of the factors influencing the migratory flows of Cubans to the US.

There was no commitment to a date for a third round of talks but there was agreement on the need to maintain these dialogues, Cossío said, noting that it was a useful and constructive meeting.

Regarding the contacts that have taken place in recent months between entities from different areas of the two countries, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs affirmed that “diplomatic relations and formal channels of communication exist between Cuba and the U.S., as well as the ability to talk about different issues”.

He mentioned that last week meetings were held between the Border Guard forces, the State Department and the Cuban Foreign Ministry, the Department of Homeland Security and the Minrex, and “therefore other meetings are not ruled out in the future, not necessarily associated to migratory relations, which do not depend on migratory relations, but on the common areas of interest and the evident need for two countries geographically close, and with many issues in common, to have cooperation and dialogue”.

Representatives of Cuba and the United States held bilateral migration talks in the Cuban capital on Tuesday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío Domínguez headed the delegation of the Caribbean nation, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Emily Mendrala headed the U.S. delegation.

Source: Cuba en Resumen, translation Resumen  Latinoamericano-  US